Tuesday, September 30, 2003

From blog correspondent Lee Penn
US uses terror law to pursue crimes from drugs to swindling
A New York Times article - you may have to sign up to read it.

Lee Penn: Is anyone really surprised this this is occurring? The Republicans have built an engine of repression. It will, soon enough, be turned against them and their friends.

Emergency ordinance blocks plans for on-stage suicide at rock concert
Lee Penn: And God is supposed to bless America's cause for ..... well, what?

A prediction, if trends continue: reality-TV gladiatorial events, TV executions, and TV interrogations of 'enemy combatants' - at least one by 2015, and all three by 2030.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Sept. 11 and Iraq still linked by Cheney
And the Tooth Fairy works for al-Qaeda.
Fun with spam
Got 30 such e-mails in my work inbox over the weekend - almost all of them rude comments about my genitalia from strangers who've never seen me and offering to sell me potions and gizmos to 'help' me with a supposed problem with same.

Get the feeling the secular world is sex-mad? As well as pathologically insecure? Both conditions are kept going by advertising - spend, spend, spend on crap you don't really need, such as from the 'You're Not Attractive or Stylish Enough' catalogue (as Bill Watterson said so well in 'Calvin and Hobbes'), to keep up with the Joneses and dig yourself into debt like a good consumer.
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
A hamster for president
Dave McLaughlin: Given the choices that we are likely to face in 2004, this one actually makes sense.

BTW, Dave is a Sept. 11 survivor, having escaped Tower Two of the World Trade Center. 'Not in our name', indeed.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

What I’m reading
Finally... Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton.
From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
Icon of All Saints of Palestine
Samer al-Batal: The two banners flanking Christ read, 'This is my beloved Son. Hear ye Him.'

From Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church, Ramallah. (Part of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.)
Holy places
Mt Athos vs. the European Union
by Paul Weyrich
Fr Deacon Paul Weyrich is a member of the Melkite Church, specifically, Holy Transfiguration Church in McLean, Virginia.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

From the Anglo-Catholic message board
Thou shalt not mix and match rites
Or, why taking an Eastern-rite thing out of its context doesn't foster appreciation of what the rite really means
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
The latest from the Church of Russia on relations with Rome
An older, complementary view of the crucifixion
by Frederica Mathewes-Greene
Published just before the the Julian-date celebration of the feast of the Holy Cross (today) was this Eastern Christian view of the Passion of Christ: Mrs M-G's review of Mel Gibson's movie. (For readers who don't know, yes, Orthodox use the crucifix.)
London and world protests oppose Iraq occupation

From lewrockwell.com yesterday
He’s just a big kid
Psychoanalysing the Sock Puppet-in-Chief.

Nowhere was George playing grown-up more conspicuous than his staged re-election photo op on the USS Lincoln. When I saw him all dressed up pretending to be a naval aviator, I kept waiting for him to pull out his GI Joe doll with karate action, sit down and start playing: "Bring 'em on. We can take 'em. Huh, Joe? Take that--heeeyah," while making Joe do a big karate chop as the real soldiers look on, saluting their Commander in Chief.

To this day I'm amazed and appalled that veterans' groups didn't loudly protest in righteous anger over this posturing, because:

We saw it in AWOL George, who didn't see the need to fulfill his obligations, his promised duties in the National Guard because it didn't align with his wishes.

Except what he did was worse: if you're AWOL over 30 days, it's desertion. (And he wasn't a conscientious objector, a legit option.)

Friday, September 26, 2003

Changing the genes of unborn babies
An act of mercy and healing or a Nazi fantasy? Does it depend on what's being changed?
Blast from the past
The Church of England, c. 1900, explains itself to the Eastern Orthodox

And the Eastern Orthodox’ answer.
From David Virtue
Woman theologian slams same-sex eroticism
Where feast days come from
Turning points in history
Tomorrow's Julian-calendar church feast, old news to readers who use the modern (Gregorian) calendar to reckon church holidays, is that of the cross of Christ. The history of the troparion for it seems to point to some political or military event centuries ago, as the original version asks God to protect the emperor, presumably the Roman (what we now call Byzantine) one. As he's been gone a long time, as has the tsar, this prayer has been through different rewrites by different people. The Orthodox now pray: 'Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance. Grant unto orthodox Christians victory over their enemies, and by the power of Thy cross preserve Thy commonwealth*.' Some Byzantine Catholics, allergic to the o-word, pray instead: '... Grant Thou unto Thy church... Thy people.' I'm sure God understands either way.

Similarly, the kontakion for the Annunciation, sung at the end of the office of Prime in the Russian recension of the Byzantine Rite (Взбранной воеводе, Победительная...), isn't sung anymore at Prime by the Greeks (since the end of the empire) - it was written to celebrate the saving of the Byzantine imperial capital, Constantinople, from an attack... ironically, a siege by pre-Christian Slavs.

Anyway, this business of feast days commemorating political and military victories is not peculiar to Eastern Christendom. The recent feast of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, Sept. 15, commemorates in part Jan Sobieski of Poland saving Christian Western Europe from Muslim Turkish invaders, defeating them outside Vienna Sept. 12, 1683. (Croissants also were invented to celebrate, mocking the Turkish/Islamic crescent.) The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, Oct. 7, celebrates the Christian (Austrian) naval victory over the Turks at Lepanto, I think in 1570. Fun facts: this was the only time in history there was a papal navy, and the Turkish fleet's admiral was in fact Italian and a convert to Islam. See this article from John Dalrymple - the link can be found here - for more. (Including how much the Muslims took from Eastern Christianity.)

*Which the Greek Byzantines saw as their empire, and its sphere of influence (Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia) - their conception of the respublica Christiana.
From CNN
Oui (a’ight)!
French make playing-card deck of dangerous Americans

RIP Robert Palmer
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
Russian Orthodox Church hopes to end decades-old schism
With the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR)

On ROCOR's site this week: first hierarch Metropolitan Laurus and some of his bishops recently met Russian president Vladimir Putin (with photo).

Thursday, September 25, 2003

From blog correspondent Lee Penn
Rumours of war: UN sets nuke deadline for Iran; Iran walks out
Lee Penn: The ongoing contest: how many wars can start at once around the world ...?

Rumsfeld sees no link between Iraq, 9/11
He admits it, now that the imperial campaign is a fait accompli, hundreds of lives and billions of dollars after the fact ...

And then there is this:

No WMD in Iraq, source claims
Lee Penn: If these stories are true, we need to give Bush and Cheney an ice-cream sundae with a new flavor: Im_PEACH_ MINT.

More moves towards world war

Ohio Pagans - run-up to ‘Pagan Pride’ festivals at autumnal equinox
Not the rival motorcycle gang to the Hell's Angels, but rather pseudo-pagans who are at best bright, creative and wrong and at worst involved in the demonic. In Cleveland of all places, a.k.a. Slavic Catholic central. One might hope that the traditional(ist) Orthodox, Byzantine Catholic and Roman Catholic priests in the metro area's many old parishes took this as an opportunity to evangelize some spiritually attuned but confused people and indeed to do an exorcism or two when necessary. But often such places are parochial (in the bad sense as well as literally) and complacent, alas.

"We are not scary, devil-worshipping, baby-eating savage people, but, unfortunately, that is the biggest stigma for all of us," said Clevelander Elizabeth Sommerer, a witch who works in a drugstore.

That's because your religion isn't really paganism - it's a modern invention that rips off Christianity (dethroning Christ but keeping 'harm no-one', community service, alms, etc.) and doesn't even literally believe in the gods and goddesses it invokes, seeing them as Jungian archetypes and suchlike. Real pagans, like the Afro-Caribbean santeros (practising Yoruba religion from Africa), believe in their gods and sacrifice animals (and people, in the case of the ancient Aztecs) to please them.

That said, isn't there something dodgy about somebody who believes in casting spells being entrusted with people's medicines?

Murray Brownlee, who happened to wander by, gazed at them and inquired, 'Are you all going to have an orgy?'

Actually, the men who started Wicca back in the 1930s would have liked that too.

Another thing - they seem to have a similar romantic, archaic streak as me, as they like colorful, elaborate worship and old-fashioned-sounding English ('Blessed be' and all that). Why don't they drop the hooey and use the Book of Common Prayer? (Or the Anglican Breviary, or the Jordanville Prayer Book, etc.)

Perhaps a rhetorical question as this may be real spiritual warfare.

Perhaps because the gods they serve ultimately are the ones in the mirror.
The government schools’ war on Christianity
by Ann Coulter
She's not really my kind of conservative but this is a good article and a shocking one. This isn't the neutrality envisaged by the Constitution - meant to protect the 'free exercise' of all religion - but the aggressive evangelization of secular humanism.

The liberal teachers seem so Soviet - I've met people who in the USSR back in Stalin's day got in trouble as kids for bringing a red egg to school right after Easter.

These are the same people who like other Marxist practices, like getting rid of real racial equality and basing admission to university and workplace hiring partly on racial quotas to represent different blocs of the proletariat.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
antiwar.com now has a blog

There is nothing conservative about the US policy in Iraq
by Rep. John Duncan (R-Tennessee)
He's pro-Bush but anti-neocon and antiwar

'No foreign policy can be justified except a policy devoted…to the protection of the liberty of the American people, with war only as the last resort and only to preserve that liberty.'

- Sen. Robert Taft
From blog correspondent Lee Penn
Another view of The Magdalene Sisters
by Frederica Mathewes-Greene, who is Eastern Orthodox
Good points - but the atrocities Peter Mullan dramatized really did happen and are inexcusable.

Lee Penn: And this follow-up comment by another woman, an orthodox Catholic writer.

Perhaps I didn't also send my second post to you. anyway, I can't find it now. What I said in it is what I said on the telephone: via the link you sent, I read the account from the Irish Times. I found it far more balanced and believable than any of the other stories, indeed, entirly plausible. The author indicates that pregnant girls were sent to the Magdalens for shelter, and later released. Prostitutes and alcoholics seem to have been sent there for shelter and rehabilitation. Those who stayed for life seem to have been the retarded -- who were not cared for in today's fashion anywhere, as far as I know. In the US, in the same period, they were generally arehoused in big institutions, where perhaps they were allowed to help with some janitorial tasks as they were able. Once psychotropic drugs came on the scene, many were kept drugged into passivilty.

By comparison, I don't think the Irish nuns have much to apologize for. [End. Again, good points, but regarding apologies, see my comment just below the link.]

Some of you already may be on Lee's e-mail list, but for those who aren't, I post his links here.
Mr Bush’s ‘global gag rule’
Remember what I was saying before about stopped clocks? As Planned Parenthood are doing their literal damnedest to spin this negatively, it seems like a good thing.

Then again, it's probably just a sop to the social-conservative voters. 'Vote for me - you have nowhere else to go'.

So... if there is a real shortage of doctors in Africa, where are groups like Doctors Without Borders in all this, not to mention good old-fashioned churches (not taking government funding), such as those with religious orders who do medical work?

Libertarian rebuttal: the government has no obligation or mandate to fund these things.

Here we are: the stopped clock is wrong a second later.

More American troops may face Iraq duty
Makes me wish the US had a parliamentary system (with coalitions, etc.) so there could be an election right now, Mr Bush's party could be voted out of power and this nonsense could be stopped now.
The accidental stormchaser
As some of you might know, thunderstorms and tornadoes fascinate me, and someday I'd like to see one of the latter - far, far away to the east where it can't turn around and get me. Yesterday I came the closest I've been so far to one - and still didn't see it! - but perhaps too close all the same.

Drove to work unusually early, just after daybreak, after being duly warned by the television that it was going to rain a lot, very soon. Well, that happened - my little Korean car was like a motor launch on the flooded roads, kicking up a little wake. Anyway, the sky to the west was the darkest I've seen outside the Midwest, and my first thought was 'there might be a funnel in there'. It was raining so hard I had trouble seeing and so pulled onto a side street, thinking I'd back-road it to my destination. Then the rain abated somewhat and I changed my mind, going back towards the highway on-ramp.

Thank you, guardian angel!

Farther up the road I had turned onto to back-road it, while I was on it, an F1 (about 100-mph winds) twister knocked down two huge trees.

At least three more touched down in the metro area, including one within easy bicycling distance of where I lived for nine years.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

From blog correspondent Lee Penn
Former heads of Poland, Czech Rep., Hungary call for ‘regime change’ in Cuba
Lee Penn: FYI .... it seems that 'someone' wants to heat up a new trouble spot. As if there were not enough of these already.

I make no case for Castro; his government deserves to fall.

But ... Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic are US allies now. Are the US and its allies running a contest to see how many wars can start all at once? Have our policy makers considered how the Cubans (and any friends they may have) will reply to this initiative? [End.]

Monday, September 22, 2003

Man charged in murder plot against Kobe Bryant’s accuser
Go Lakers! More of mainstream society's pathology about sports.

Ironically, since at the time I worked for a newspaper that gave him a lot of coverage when he was the local high-school star, so I knew more about him than about most players, I liked him because he's cultured - he grew up in Italy where his ex-NBA dad continued to play and so he is fluent in the language.

That said, the best advice about this whole wack mess came years ago from a man who was admittedly arrogant and had no pretence about what he was, Charles Barkley: to paraphrase him, fine, I'll gladly take the money and the fame you're handing me, but 'don't hold me up to your kids as a role model just because I can dunk a basketball'. Well put.
From workingforchange.com
We have all faced death in Iraq without reason or justification. How many more must die? How many more tears must be shed before Americans awake and demand the return of the men and women whose job it is to protect them rather than their leader's interest?

- Tim Predmore, 101st Airborne Division, US Army
From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
Photos of Hurricane Isabel damage
Envoy magazine interview with A Conservative Blog for Peace correspondent Lee Penn
Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

- Albert Einstein

Sunday, September 21, 2003

O tempora, o mores!
And no, I’m not overreacting

I'll admit - I watch some of America's 'Must-See' hipster TV on NBC partly to have a window (however distorted by TV unreality, like a funhouse mirror) on secular culture and partly because I like some of the style and wit on 'Will and Grace' - some of the gay (in the traditional, not homosexualist sense - read Joe Sobran for more on this) things that would-be young fogeys™ like me aspire to. Of course I can suss what's wrong with the messages being sent and filter that out. (I'm of age and have got my catechism, my Liturgy and my divine office - in short a moral compass and chart - and don't need Tipper Gore or Donald Wildmon telling me what I can or can't listen to or watch.)

Can't say that about the latest program coming soon, I think to replace the execrable 'Friends' and somehow weirdly connected to it in its un-Christian distortion of relations between the sexes. (And secular people think 'Friends' is cuddly and cute! Don't think even they can say that about this.) This gets right to the point: it's called 'Coupling'. Get it? (Elbow to the ribs.) Sad to say, this damnable show is based on a British one I've seen in passing.

As time goes by, I'm watching secular culture become even more vicious and coarse, and I'm not even 40 yet.
Margaret Wettlin epilogue
I wrote a little about her on Sept. 16, including links to her obituary and her book, Fifty Russian Winters. Well, I was riding my bicycle into the city this afternoon when I noticed one of those things I always stop at - a jumble sale, in this case a moving sale being put on by an attractive, artistic-looking city couple with lots of academic-looking books. I saw the Russian name on one of the sellers' art-show announcement cards, asked, ‘Говорите по-русски?’, and found out he is Mrs W’s grandson! He's from Russia but, unlike my Russian friends with a similar family story, speaks perfect American English. What's more, I also met his uncle and learnt that both men have done some local church painting, including iconography, I'm very familiar with.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Luther: The Movie
I feel sorry for him. He made some bad mistakes - the 'Reformation' was a mistake! - but considering the corruption all around him in Germany one can understand why he made them. There is a legend that he recanted on his deathbed, which can't be proved but given how volatile and unstable he was, it wouldn't have been out of character for him.

By the way, he went to confession, almost keeping it as a sacrament, and believed in the Assumption. Like C.S. Lewis centuries later, he was less Protestant than his fans.
Prolife advances in Russia
by David Bahnsen
An article on a Protestant (!) site notes:

A bill is on the table (and is considered likely to pass) that would grant the same legal rights to a fetus that children currently have. The birth rate has risen from 9.1 per 1,000 to 9.8 per 1,000.

And who is beyond all this, you ask?

The Russian Orthodox Church.

...I simply want to point out that it is the Russian Orthodox Church who is fighting this battle. After 70 years of declared atheism being the official religion of the land, the Russian Orthodox Church was not buried, was not left for dead, and was not content to lie in a bed of apathy and discontent. Instead, these baptized members of the covenant have chosen to fight a battle – one of the most important battles in their culture.
Do all dogs go to heaven?
In memory of Shasta, 1996-2002
I think the orthodox answer is animals obviously are like us in that they are sentient - they feel, and they have emotions (of which dogs, for example, are charming in their display). Which is why empathy for animals is a virtue we try to inculcate in children and we teach that cruelty to animals is a sin. But: plants have the lowest kind of soul, animals have a sensitive soul and people have a spiritual soul, which is why we receive sacraments and definitely have a chance at heaven, and our animals don't receive them! (Ecce Panis angelorum... vere Panis filiorum, non mittendus canibus.)

As for the ultimate destiny of our animals, I think there are two ways the orthodox can go here. 1) is the harsh one, that they simply cease to be when they die. But some orthodox but modern people offer the hope that 2) at the general resurrection all creation will be renewed, and that will include our animals, so we might have them back in the end after all. Think of it as another reward for the blessed - you'll have Fido or Fluffy back.

Friday, September 19, 2003

From blog correspondent Lee Penn
Dalai Lama lite
by Patrick French
A New York Times online article - they make you sign in.

Lee Penn: For your information. It appears that liberal Westerners have a distorted view of what Tibetan Buddhism actually is.

Money quotes:

"The Dalai Lama has become whoever we want him to be, a cuddly projection of our hopes and dreams. This enthusiasm, though, has not translated into any tangible political benefit for Tibetans. He has been seen on advertisements for Apple computers and SalesForce.com software; significantly, he was not paid for either of these uses of his image. Some of the books that purport to be written by the Dalai Lama are scarcely by him at all, but have his face on the cover to increase sales.

In reality, Tibetan Buddhism is not a values-free system oriented around smiles and a warm heart. It is a religion with tough ethical underpinnings that sometimes get lost in translation. For example, the Dalai Lama explicitly condemns homosexuality, as well as all oral and anal sex. His stand is close to that of Pope John Paul II, something his Western followers find embarrassing and prefer to ignore. [Which is why the Dalai Lama's picture and a quotation are on my prolife page.] His American publisher even asked him to remove the injunctions against homosexuality from his book, Ethics for the New Millennium, for fear they would offend American readers, and the Dalai Lama acquiesced."

The foregoing speaks for itself ... [End.]

Also recommended today: Touchstone's blog, among the permanent links at the bottom of this page.
Relic of true Cross found buried in drawer of cathedral
Reminds me of the occasional find in England, where some item is discovered in a medieval church long occupied by Protestants - about 10 years ago a 'stash' of vestments was found in a parish church, where 450 years ago some good 'catholique' villagers had buried them in a box for safe keeping until better times.

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. - John 12
St Januarius (San Gennaro)
Aftermath of Isabel
The prayers and lit icon lamp worked!

All turned out well here - I overprepared with canned food and bottled water and all I got was a little wind (pretty impressive gale-force stuff though) and rain. No lightning. Piddling compared to the Wagnerian spectacle of an American Midwest prairie thunderstorm* (where there is no ocean to moderate the climate). Outside, there are lots of leaves and twigs all over the place - with an occasional big branch and one downed power line that's been secured** - and lots of traffic lights out.

And the sun is out now and the temperature is perfect with a nice breeze.

Glory to God.

*During one of these I've seen a 100-mph wind and horizontal white rain, like somebody turning a fire hose on the house. Nearly blew the doors in.

**In the US power and phone lines are still above ground with telephone poles.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

From Mike Russell
Parody: Russia bans McCartney’s post-Beatles music after Moscow concert
by Andy Borowitz
I'll admit I like some of it, but 'maybe I'm amazed' (actually a good pop song) like everybody else how his output went so far down in quality within 10 years of the Beatles breaking up - from 'Let It Be' to disco! Actually, as noted in The Rise and Fall of Popular Music, all the solo Beatles disappeared from the hipster radar after about 1974*, the year before their contract as Beatles would have expired anyway. My guess is they had two more good albums in them as a band after they finished recording Abbey Road, counting the things I like on All Things Must Pass. I understand plenty of fans have made CDs putting together different songs from the early ’70s solo albums to make one or two hypothetical, high-quality 'Beatles' albums - I think it works.

*Double Fantasy stands on its own, without John Lennon's murder getting it the attention it did - I like 'Watching the Wheels'.
Answering ‘professional Ukrainians’
As long as I've been on the Web, I've had some criticism from hardcore Ukrainian nationalists. The contested issues aren't the focus of this blog, but as I had an instant-message conversation with one recently, here are some comments.

Пишу вам на русском языке, потому что 1) не могу написать хорошо по-украински, 2) знаю, что вы понимайте этот язык (80% то же самое как ваша мова).

Мне кажется, что центр украинского национализма только на юго-западе - польская земля с XIV-ого века до Второй Мировой Войны. История различная чем большая часть русского народа, конечно - а это очень маленькая часть современной страны.

Most of Ukraine, on the other hand, which was part of Russia since the 1600s, speaks Russian by habit and by choice - it's the government that's forcing Uke down people's throats, when it's only the separatists in Halych and Transcarpathia who really speak it as a first language.

Исповедую вам, что никогда не был в бывшем Союзе, но немного лет назад я был в кино и смотрел фильм украинский ‘Приятель Покойника’, который был в Киеве (столичный город ‘независимой Украины’) и все говорили по-русски!

Most self-ID'd Ukrainian separatists in the North American diaspora seem to come from those parts, which gives Americans and Canadians the impression that they represent most of the country. As far as I know they don't.

Я сам - иностранец, и поэтому вижу подобия ясные чем различия. Вижу одная Русь.

But believe me, I understand why the far southwest wants to be separate - its history and culture have been distinct from Russia's nearly twice as long as Europeans have lived in the Americas, and it was taken by force by the Communists during World War II. Hardly a happy pan-Rus' reunion! (And pan-Slavism is a 19th-century invention anyway.) But at the same time I am moved by the patriotism of the naval fleet at Sevastopol', which on the day of Ukrainian independence had the blue-St Andrew's cross-on-white ensign, the flag of Russia, flown aboard all its ships. A symbol of Christendom and of a kind of Catholicity transcending nationalism, over the modern upstart notion of the nation-state breaking up the respublica Christiana. BTW, the Crimea is Russia - might as well admit it and give it back.
The ecstatic heresy
by the Revd Dr Robert Sanders
A kind of Modernism
Съ праздникомъ
Happy feast day of the righteous Zechariah and Elisabeth, Russian Orthodox.

The saint who could fly
Prayer against storms
Jesus Christ, a King of Glory, has come in peace. God became Man, and the Word was made flesh. Christ was born of a Virgin. Christ suffered. Christ was crucified. Christ died. Christ rose from the dead. Christ ascended into Heaven. Christ conquers. Christ reigns. Christ orders. May Christ protect us from all storms and lightning. Christ went through their midst in peace, and the Word was made flesh. Christ is with us with Mary. Flee you enemy spirits because the Lion of the Generation of Juda, the Root David, has won. Holy God! Holy Powerful God! Holy Immortal God! Have mercy on us. Amen!

This is from the famous Pietà Roman Catholic devotional prayer book for the laity, a little blue paperback apparently chock full of historically dubious and unapproved stuff shading into superstition but this seems orthodox, like the Creed recast with repetition into a good liturgical rhythm - makes it easy to memorize too. And of course it's nice to see a Byzantine Rite standard, the Trisagion/Трисвятое, at the end. (The Roman Rite only uses it once a year, on Good Friday.)

Of your charity pray for the people living on America's Delmarva peninsula and the coasts of the Carolinas today as Hurricane Isabel reaches landfall.

There is a custom of burning blessed candles (from Candlemas, the feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple, Feb. 2) in a thunderstorm. I have some candles but they're really for show most of the time - I stick to burning one лампада (oil-burning lamp) in front of most of my icons.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

From blog correspondent Lee Penn
FAIR MEDIA ADVISORY: Wesley Clark: The New Anti-War Candidate?
I wish my car could do this. ;)
From the comments, blogforlovers.blogspot.com
Lord, teach us to pray
From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
US Constitution Day (today)
by Harry Browne
S al-B: Unfortunately, the failure of the Constitution to restrain government has made some of its admirers, such as Joe Sobran, realise, while respecting the Founders' attempts at creating an effective safeguard and restraining instrument against government tyranny, that it was flawed from the start, in that the government has been able to claim power to interpret the meaning of the Constitution and thus mold it in its own image. Hence, we have seen freak pronouncements and conclusions: abortion as a "fundamental constitutional right" and other such nonsense.
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
Georgian Orthodox Church protests government agreement with Vatican
Is this a concordat? What are Georgia and the Vatican agreeing to, Dave?
Bring ’em home, Mr Bush
by Ilana Mercer
From blog correspondent Lee Penn
Gen. Wesley Clark to run for President
Lee Penn: It would be good to have an anti-war, non-imperialist, America-first
candidate for President. But Clark has his own history as an imperialist. He
was NATO's commander in the unjust, aggressive war against Serbia in 1999 ... and
according to the following BBC report, nearly arranged a dangerous confrontation
with the Russians at the time.

BBC News | EUROPE | Confrontation over Priština airport

Money quote:

"General Wesley Clark, Nato's supreme commander, immediately ordered 500
British and French paratroopers to be put on standby to occupy the airport.

''I called the [Nato] Secretary General [Javier Solana] and told him what the
circumstances were,'' General Clark tells the BBC programme Moral Combat:
Nato at War.

''He talked about what the risks were and what might happen if the Russian's
got there first, and he said: 'Of course you have to get to the airport'.

''I said: 'Do you consider I have the authority to do so?' He said: 'Of
course you do, you have transfer of authority'.'' But General Clark's plan was
blocked by General Sir Mike Jackson, K-For's British commander. "I'm not going
to start the Third World War for you," he reportedly told General Clark during
one heated exchange.

A senior Russian officer, General Leonid Ivashev, tells the BBC how the
Russians had plans to fly in thousands of troops. ''Let's just say that we had
several airbases ready. We had battalions of paratroopers ready to leave within
two hours,'' he said. Amid fears that Russian aircraft were heading for
Pristina, General Clark planned to order British tanks and armoured cars to
block the runways to prevent any transport planes from landing. General Clark said
he believed it was ''an appropriate course of action''. But the plan was again
vetoed by Britain."

So during the Kosovo War, we had two brushes with holocaust: the CIA "error"
that led us to bomb the Chinese Embassy, and this plan of Wesley Clark's to
have a duel with Russia over deployment of Russian peacekeepers. (I remember
this same BBC report from the spring of 2000; it long ante-dates the current
presidential race.)

In other words - if we get safely to the 2004 election, and Clark wins the
Democratic nomination, and Bush wins the Republican nomination, we'll have a
choice: Bush, whose minions are rattling their sabers worldwide .... or Clark,
on whose watch we nearly had confrontations with Russia and with China.

Sleep well, America.

Torquemada and moral relativism about torture
Basically, even the orthodox can get it wrong.

Lee Penn: Earlier today (yesterday), I sent out an interview with an Atlantic Monthly writer who offered necessity of war as the reason why the US should be free to use "coercive interrogation" on the enemy.

The appeal to necessity as a reason for torture has a long pedigree.

Tomás de Torquemada

This is from an online 1913-vintage edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Money quote:

"Whether Torquemada's ways of ferreting out and punishing heretics were justifiable is a matter that has to be decided not only by comparison with the penal standard of the fifteenth century, but also, and chiefly, by an inquiry into their necessity for the preservation of Christian Spain. The contemporary Spanish chronicler, Sebastian de Olmedo (Chronicon magistrorum generalium Ordinis Prædicatorum, fol. 80-81) calls Torquemada "the hammer of heretics, the light of Spain, the saviour of his country, the honour of his order"."

The end justifies the means .... Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and Hitler would all agree...

There is a historical reason for some of the post-Enlightenment opposition to the Church ... those apologies that the Pope made in the spring of 2000 were done for good reason. (Counterpoint: Joseph Sobran in an article linked on my original site's Intro page.)

The call to repentance is for all. [End.]
St Joasaph of Belgorod
Today's Russian Orthodox feast day

Today’s Gospel reading
For Divine Liturgy, Byzantine Rite, Julian reckoning.

Reminded me of Hurricane Isabel:

Mark 4
35: And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.
36: And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.
37: And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
38: And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
39: And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
40: And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
41: And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

St Lambert
Today's Book of Common Prayer saint

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

From blog correspondent Lee Penn
Still more of the apostolic ministry in action
Lee just wrote an article for The Christian Challenge about a trip to Europe that Episcopal Church bishop William Swing took this past spring with some colleagues from other churches. Here are, as he says, money quotes:

Archbishop [William] Levada [RC ordinary of San Francisco] led a Catholic Mass [sic] at the tomb of St Francis in Assisi, where the lesson was read by Beth Hansen, '[maybe] the first woman priest ever to participate in a Mass at the Basilica', Swing wrote. [I assume Ms Hansen is a lady Episcopal cleric from Swing's diocese.]

Pardon my Jèrriais, but how the f**k did this man get a pallium from an allegedly conservative Pope?

Compare and contrast with this:

When the pilgrims met Patriarch Bartholomew [the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, now Istanbul], Swing said that 'we covered a wide range of subjects. When we hit on women's ordination, he had a deacon bring books on that subject to the three women in our group--Mary, Beth, and Lou. I mentioned that I have ordained more women than any other bishop in the history of the Church and would be glad to talk about my experience. He said, "I don't want to know your experience." That was that.'

The apostolic ministry hath spoken: that was that, indeed. Eis polla eti despota!

Cardinal Kasper said wistfully, 'Women's ordination is a hard issue for us.'

Boo hoo. And who's giving out the red hats over there?

Beth Hansen was brave to wear her clerical collar in an audience with the Pope and an audience with the Ecumenical Patriarch. The Pope didn't react. The Patriarch seemed slightly perturbed.

Good for His All-Holiness the Patriarch. Time was when Anglicans, including those in colonial orders, had some manners. Not anymore?

Quoth William Swing:

Rome and Orthodoxy are very, very, very male. Also they both have high doctrines and devotion about the Blessed Virgin Mary. I find it difficult to utter the word 'Theotokos' in referring to Mary. Although I honor the devotion that Levada and [Greek Orthodox bishop of San Francisco] Anthony have for Mary, I think that calling Mary the Mother of God moves close to idolatry. Jesus said, 'Who is my mother... ? Those who do the will of my Father in heaven are my mother, brothers ....' And if she is the Mother of God, what relationship does she have with the one whom Jesus calls Abba, Father? Popular Islamic thinking is that Christians are polytheists: God, Jesus, His Mother. I can see where their impression comes from.

So, Your Grace, goddess worship in your cathedral is OK but praying with Our Lady isn't? Strange kind of Protestantism that. (Or maybe you're drawn to one kind of supernatural force, that of the beings you invoke, which recoils from the other kind, of which she is part.) Reminds me of something I read recently that posited that Protestants often are really Nestorians - just gauge their reaction to the term 'Mother of God'. (Even though Luther, still orthodox on that point, believed in it.) Actually it's a diss to her Son, denying His Godhood, so arguably Swing is stepping out of Christianity - yet still sounding culturally very Protestant while so doing. Kind of like the Mormons. (They believe in plural gods too!)

Believe it or not, I have been friendly with some New Agers. The thing is, they're honest. (And objectively, yes, they're wrong.) Not pretending to exercise the apostolic ministry like this man does.

Пресвятая Богородице, спаси нас. Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Mark Bowden, the author of "The Dark Art of Interrogation," on why the practice of coercion is a necessary evil
Lee Penn: This is an interview with the author of a long article in the October issue of Atlantic Monthly, about the use of torture and coercion in interrogating prisoners. The writer says that we should, like Israel, "ban it, but you
practice it in certain selected cases."

It also appears from the main article (which is not yet online, but is in the stores as hard copy) that the author would accept US use of the KGB "conveyor" tactics that broke the will of the Old Bolsheviks in the Moscow Trials of
the 1930s. After all, round-the-clock questioning, sleep deprivation, and the like are not really torture.

Mark Shea makes a Catholic [no sic needed] response.


Pleeeeeeze can we torture? Everybody else is doing it!

A member of the chattering class does his bit to snip away at another little piece of our souls. Of course, that's okay, cuz we're the Good Guys. Everything we do is made okay by the fact that we do it, cuz we're Good Guys, so how could what we do ever be wrong?

Cue the "What if you had exactly 10 minutes to find out where the bomb is?" scenarios.

Yes, and some pregnancies are tragic. So let's just make abortion as easy as possible. Hard cases make bad law.

[End of Shea quotation.]

Lee Penn: Shea is right. Remember the proponents of liberalized divorce in the 1950s and 1960s, and the pre-1973 debates on abortion legalization? The "reformers" always talked about the hard cases, and said that overthrow of traditional restraints was necessary to alleviate the suffering of people in extreme circumstances. So now half of marriages end in divorce, and a quarter of pregnancies end with abortion.

Prediction: If we officially accept torture now for "terrorists," it will be universal in 20-30 years. And in 40 years, it will be on pay-per-view TV, or the future equivalent thereof. [End.]

I've been saying that a revival and update of gladiatorial games, and the mainstreaming of snuff films, are probably just around the corner as 'entertainment'. (Accidents on video already are - this just the next step.) Why not some torture sessions by the government as well? Mr Bush's handlers' version of the Two Minutes' Hate.

More weird science
Sperm made from stem cells of mice
Lee Penn: Mark Shea offers this comment:

Human History Summarized:

Step 1: 'What could it hurt?'

Step 2: 'How were we supposed to know?' [End.]
Say it ain’t so!
Penis-enlargement pills are full of it — literally
The real news story, I think, is that for some reason The Wall Street Journal bothered to research this.
From The Onion
‘Scared Straight!’ 25 years later
Bouônjour! Like Rusyn, another fascinating obscure dialect. An example of the French once spoken in the Channel Islands (specifically the island of Jersey, whence came the breed of cow), which are British but actually closer to France, and not politically a literal part of Britain. (The Queen is head of state as 'duchess of Normandy'.) Basically Jèrriais is the French that William the Conqueror spoke - I understand it sounds like it has a Germanic accent, ’cos the Normans were Vikings to begin with. (Norman = 'north man'.) I think it's nearly extinct - it lasted through the early 1900s, and standard French was the official written langage until then - but people are trying to revive it.
Obituary: Margaret Wettlin
An American liberal who travelled to the USSR in 1932 and stayed 50 years; wrote Fifty Russian Winters.

I haven't got a lot of sympathy for old Communists but actually I know somebody a lot like this, who effectively emigrated in the 1950s (!) and stayed about 30 years, eventually repatriating himself after the Soviet Union was no more and bringing his large Russian extended family home with him. (And like Mrs Wettlin's family, they became instant US citizens - actually they're dual citizens.) Literally a gentle man: wouldn't hurt a capitalist fly.

A while back there was a stage play called Black Russian about a similar immigrant, somebody whose black American father had immigrated to Russia during the Depression, when lots of understandably disillusioned folks were keen on Communism. Again, I am acquainted with somebody like that! Part of the same extended family described above, his story is a little different as his father was Cuban. But he is Russian, black and living in America.
Rusyn International Media Center/Русиньскый Междiнародный Медiалный Центер
Excellent new site, only up since August 2003. Interesting collection and mixture of Slavic languages. The title, while quite readable, is obviously not in standard Russian but in a dialect of Rusyn (itself a kind of Ukrainian) approaching it. It seems most of the news stories are in Slovak.

SS. Cyril & Methodius Orthodox Church, near Mercer, Pennsylvania
From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
Christiane Amanpour: CNN practised ‘self-censorship’
S al-B: The embedded media weren't being as candid as we trusting people thought? Sacre bleu!

S al-B: A footnote: now if only Mrs Amanpour would practice some consistency and tell us who awarded her (or intimidated her into becoming an imperial sock puppet if you prefer, though with her enthusiasm at the time, I'm prone to mentioning that the more plausible assumption is that she was practically ordained to the position) the title of Chief War Propagandist and Obfuscator during the Kosovo fiasco.
From lewrockwell.com
The forgotten Christians of Iraq
by Glen Chancy
Why the Protestant religious right doesn't care about these people.

Young fogeys
by Harry Mount, The Spectator
You can't see the three-button tweed jacket as well as you should, but the photo at the top of this page should tell you where I stand. They're what I could have been if I'd had the right tutoring at the right age.

Monday, September 15, 2003

From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
The latest on the gutting of the House of Lords
Proposed: replace few remaining hereditary peers with what are basically just more politicians
Seven Sorrows of Our Lady
Happy feast day, traditional Roman Catholic readers. I got this from Chuck Sampair's automated e-mails, from the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia: 'To the oriental churches these feasts are unknown'. Not quite: the Russians adopted from Poland an image of the Mother of God with seven swords pointing to her not-visible heart and named it the 'Softener of Evil Hearts' (Умягчение Злых Сердец) or 'of the seven swords' (Семистрельная). Молитвы и Акафист.

Магазин ‘Софрино’
The official shop of the Church of Russia for books and icons.
From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
New from Justin Raimondo
S al-B: His latest column addresses the neocons' sick view of American soldiers as cannon fodder and playthings in their megalomaniacal game of political chess, the latest phase (or excuse for present disaster) in this insane global operation now encapsulated into one phrase whose predictable future popularity and regularity of use will make it the latest introduction into the political glossary: Operation Flytrap.

S al-B: It makes a good climax to lob moral indignation, revulsion, and disgust at obscene politicians and ideologists who perceive the value of human life -- that of their enemies and their own soldiers, in short, that of anyone but their own hides -- in no different a manner than the rage-filled walking corpses of '28 Days Later', and Justin spares no effort in utilising these in his condemnation. Whose idea was it to plunk flesh-eating zombies down into office, anyways?

Iraq’s suffering is made invisible
by John Pilger

R.I.P. Charles Bronson
The star macho actor had a Slavic name - Buchinsky - and was born in Pennsylvania coal country to immigrants from Lithuania, the 11th of 15 children.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Le weather
Tropical storm Henri has been most moody and contrary - just like the image people have of the French! He rained out my morning yesterday and has gone through intense and sudden mood swings ever since, fooling me with sunshine into going outside on my bicycle only to downpour when I was seven miles from home. Spectacular cloud formations too. Not at all like the depressing, consistent English rain and grey skies I remember. Lots of fireworks, like a piece of good French organ music. Nearly got zapped by lightning today on my way back from my music gig.
Fun with the psalter
One of the fun things about using the traditional Book of Common Prayer for the psalms is the occasional appearance of good Tudor English that has only survived today as an American hillbilly expression - Miles Coverdale has me asking God to 'learn' me what I need to know. Whee doggie, Jethro. Well, I hope He does.
Holy Cross Day (Gregorian calendar)
Кресту твоему покланяемся, Владыко, и святое воскресение твое славим.

St Simeon Stylites (ascetic who lived on a pillar - Julian-calendar feast day)
Терпения столп был еси, ревновавый праотцем, преподобне, Иову во страстех, Иосифу во искушениих, и безплотных жительству, сый в телеси, Симеоне отче наш, моли Христа Бога спастися душам нашим.

A musical afternoon
Eastern Christendom meets Western - not that unusual really
This afternoon I had the chance to see - and take part in - a couple of strands of my orthodox, conservative religious 'special interest' (and my more casual one in music) coming together in a way that was unusual yet seemed perfectly natural. It was also my first-ever recording gig but I don't think I'll be hearing from David Geffen's A&R men any time soon.

An acquaintance who paints icons wants to make a video showing nothing but them, accompanied by choral music from the Orthodox services to go with each figure or feast day. This is where I and some other acquaintances come in for the musical part.

Spent some time in a building known to musicologists as acoustically perfect - Leopold Stokowski once recorded in it! A plain rectangular room architecturally, though largish, it has a high ceiling and an echo like an English cathedral. Interesting coincidence that, for the Orthodox liturgical music we sang, using variants of the Russian tones, we did in English and slowly, with pauses in the verses - just like the Roman Rite or the Book of Common Prayer (like cathedral evensong). To me it was like being in heaven (or a Tallis Scholars album). I did my best chorister impersonation and seemed to pull it off. (Singing tenor and managing not to sound like a choirboy whose voice has started to break... most of the time anyway.) I can barely read music - the notes can help but mostly I'm doing it by ear.

Oh, and to make the effect complete, the building happens to be an Orthodox church, dark inside but beautifully appointed, complete with very Italianate wall-like iconostasis with lifelike icons, like in 19th-century Russia. Basically an Eastern European version of everything I believe in.

The convert purists and maybe some Old Believers would fume, but there was no actual mixing and matching of rites and Russia has been borrowing things from Western Christendom since the 1600s, although on its own terms, remaining Eastern in identity - same basics as the Church Fathers and with that mystical kick all its own.

(Though interestingly, just about every image in my living-room icon corner would make the most persnickety russophile Orthodox happy. The latest addition: a card of a dark 16th-century Ukrainian icon with several figures in three rows: Our Lady, looking like the Kazan icon; Christ at the Resurrection and St Nicholas, then three Church Fathers and the shadowy martyrs SS. Florus and Laurus, and finally St George and the dragon, St Eudoxia and someone else whose name is hard to read.)

One of our group today, one of the sopranos, is a professional opera singer who converted to Russian Orthodoxy a couple of years ago to thank God for getting her singing voice back after a freak accident coughing - she credits the intercession of St John Maximovich.

As much as I enjoy singing in Slavonic, putting on my best Russian accent to do so, to me it sounded like church should sound - and in my own language!

An ideal Divine Liturgy to me would be in a church of that kind with that kind of music, in that style, in English - but only about an hour long. (And starting on time.) Well, I can dream, can't I?

Saturday, September 13, 2003

What I’m watching
Right now on the television is Sergei Eisenstein's 1927 silent movie October - stirring, great art but celebrating the Communists. (Like what Leni Riefenstahl was to the Nazis?) Disturbing. If I'd been in Russia in 1917 I would have supported the February revolution as a matter of survival (and a reaction to an immoral war) but not the October one.

Friday, September 12, 2003

From Secret Agent Man
Common sense about one of the priest scandals
Custody of the eyes and avoiding occasions of sin, anyone?
Welcome back!
More links from blog correspondent Samer al-Batal, recently returned to Canada from a trip home to Syria - 'I forgot to clarify something I notice there was some confusion about. I am Syrian (Jordanian from the maternal side of the family), not Lebanese, but I have lived many years in Lebanon'.

The life and death of the Old Right
by Murray Rothbard, lewrockwell.com
This ties into my commentary on Jeff Culbreath's entry below.

Statement on the ‘separation wall’ from the patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem

Bush calls for broader police powers to fight ‘terrorism’
From The New York Times - sign-in required (sorry!). Welcome to Amerika.

Statement of families of Sept. 11 victims

Video: the Pope, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and the Melkite Patriarch of Antioch
In Syria, the see of the two patriarchs. In Arabic.
To a regular reader of this blog
Still at it, eh? You wish 'those conservatives' would shut up and leave priests like you were free for their pursuits, having a 'gay' old time. How 'negative' and 'uncharitable' of them! Your obsession with the scandal is for very obvious reasons - you bring it up incessantly. Come clean, at least with God and yourself, stop making excuses for these errant clerics, and yourself, and maybe you and your sites will have a shot at the holiness you claim to admire so much.
From Jeff Culbreath, El Camino Real
Generation L, for lost
The main event of the 20th century is this: the Greatest Generation failed to pass the baton.

Arguable but like lewrockwell.com I'd say the rot had set in long before that generation, which bought into FDR (and the US federal government) as saviour and World War II as a noble crusade. What set the stage for all that? At least the generation before 'the Greatest' had enough of the faith and good sense to resist, coming up with America First, for example. They were the last of the paleoconservatives, who were crushed by FDR and his wartime government and finally came to end with the failed presidential candidacy of Robert Taft (who should have been president).

...the famed religiosity of the 1950s was more an act of civic virtue than deep Christian belief

Right, and I dare say a difference between the conservatism this blog identifies with (I won't presume to say 'lives up to') and the 'conservatism' one sees today represented by Messrs Bush, Ashcroft, et al. Bishop Richard Williamson has written nearly the same thing about the hollowness of 1950s religiosity, which simply pointed the way to the destruction at the end of the next decade.
Decline and fall
Most Britons can’t name a Gospel.
Rest in peace, Johnny Cash
A voice that personified America is now silent.

Does anybody else see the parallel to clerical and monastic black?

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believin' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believin' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
’Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Two years on
And the US still props up the state of Israel and stations troops in Arab lands. What has the US government learnt? Nothing. Nothing at all. (Not that I expected it to.)

About 3,000 Americans and others died to:

• Salvage the Bush presidency, a laughingstock from the word go.
• Give said administration an excuse to invade and occupy Iraq, which its handlers were planning to do anyway.


Wednesday, September 10, 2003

I teach The Iliad ... about the end of a civilization, and I can't help but think that some of the things that the president has set in motion could make for the demise of life as we know it.

- Catharine Staples, part-time university lecturer, US
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
Metropolitan Kyrill on Orthodox-Catholic relations
He is the Russian Church's top ecumenical officer.
Bush is a neoconservative
by Ilana Mercer
No. Bush is a sock puppet; his handlers are neoconservatives.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Paul Hill and homicide in defence of life
My good friend Jeff Culbreath has this to say on his blog - something I'd thought of myself.
From The Onion this week
Relations break down between US and Them
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
Unfortunately, along with the twin towers, many hopes for peace seem to have collapsed... During these years, too little has been invested to defend peace and sustain the dream of a world free of war. What has been preferred is the path of the development of special interests, wasting enormous riches in other ways - above all for military expenses.

- Pope John Paul II, yesterday
A brother said to Abba Pœmen, 'If I fall into a shameful sin, my conscience devours and accuses me, saying, "Why have you fallen?"' The old man said to him, 'At the moment when a man goes astray, if he says, "I have sinned", immediately the sin ceases.' Abba Pœmen said: 'Do not give your heart to that which does not satisfy your heart.'

- Venerable Pœmen the Great, commemorated 27th August/9th September

Monday, September 08, 2003

Happy feast day of the Nativity of the Mother of God to those using the Gregorian calendar for church feasts.

From blog correspondent Lee Penn
More on The Magdalene Sisters
A 1996 news story from The Irish Times

Lee Penn: The church authorities in Ireland gave Peter Mullan 'tons of free ammunition to work with'.

A story of a mass grave

Lee quotes a friend from Ireland (not a secular person or a liberal), who recommended the story linked immediately above and suggests the problem isn't with the church as such at all but with Irish culture: 'The Church no longer holds such sway in Ireland. Yet the Irish remain Irish: Suicide is now epidemic. Teen alcoholism is so bad that the President (a figurehead more than an executive) made public comments on it in a speech delivered in the US. And Ireland still has proportionally more schizophrenics than any country in the world.'

Lee: Just do a Google search on the the phrase 'Magdalene Laundries' with the word Ireland, and you will see that the critics of Church institutions in Ireland are right. 2,830 'hits' and counting.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Bush says he needs $87 billion more for Iraq war
He takes a chunk of my paltry yearly savings through coercion, spends it on immoral activities and then asks for more? This blogger to Mr Bush: bite me.
Antiwar US Marine sentenced to prison, bad discharge
A prisoner of conscience. A modern-day Franz Jägerstatter? I wonder if he knew what Bishop John-Michael (Botean) wrote about the war. Comments: his claimed homosexuality is irrelevant (to be fair to his accusers, it could be just a dodge to try to get out), and to give the other side credit, joining the military not expecting to be deployed wasn't very smart of him. Then again, if the US government did what it was supposed to and used the military to defend America, deployment wouldn't have been a conscience problem!
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
This war on terrorism is bogus
by Michael Meacher, The Guardian

Saturday, September 06, 2003

From blog correspondent Lee Penn
Pat Robertson endorses Schwarzenegger for California governor
In the 'not my kind of conservative' category, a chaplain to the neocons. No thanks.

Guess the source of this quotation:

'Well, you know, I don't agree with it [Communist China's forced abortion policy]. But at the same time, they've got 1.2 billion people, and they don't know what to do. If every family over there was allowed to have three or four children, the population would be completely unsustainable. ... So, I think that right now they're doing what they have to do...'

Pat Robertson or NARAL?

Like the left re: the war in Iraq, the Protestant religious right are only occasionally allies for convenience. Nothing more. Certainly not the hope of America or teachers of the faith.

As for Arnold, he seems like a nice fellow but not a culture-wars hero.

The one world religion
Counterfeit Catholicity: learn to recognize the details
by Lee Penn

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Newsweek cover story on autism
From the news
I read that Gen. Wesley Clark is a Democrat. Like Howard Dean, a good source for antiwar quotations for this blog but not somebody I can vote for. (How on earth can an MD like Dean be proabortion?) It's between writing in somebody like Joe Sobran and staying home. Voting for 'the lesser of two evils' the last time brought us the Iraq war. Never again.
From blog correspondent Lee Penn
Pope John Paul II calls Iraq war a defeat for humanity
Neoconservative Iraq just-war theories rejected
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
The story of a religious vocation

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

The Onion interviews P.J. O’Rourke
This should be up for the next week.
From Mike Russell
After decades, Russia narrows grounds for abortions
From The New York Times so they make you register to read — sorry!

Some of this is pragmatism about a dying population but the Church of Russia gets some credit:

‘The nascent debate over abortion here has been influenced by a variety of factors, including the resurgence of religion and the growing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church after 70 years of official atheism under Soviet rule.’

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

From Michelle, februarystars.org
AS as (mis)represented in the media
I saw the end of this 'Law and Order' episode and commented on it here.
From blog correspondent Lee Penn
RIP, C of E
I don't quite agree with this argument because the apostolic ministry depends in part on content for its authority. Remember Athanasius contra mundum? St Maximus the Confessor vs. the Byzantine emperor? The nominalist arbitrariness of the liberals — Charles Bennison's half-truth 'the church wrote scripture and can change scripture' — is, like 'AffCaff' rubbish in general, a deliberate distortion of the truth. Bend the faith a little and you get liberalism: Christianity without Christ.

Here is a sad example (scroll down to 'What Does It Mean?') found recently of the moral vacuity one can find even in parts of Anglo-Catholicism in the Anglican Communion (even when it affects traditional trappings): crossing a line from the Anglican virtue of tolerant conservatism, Christian charity including to those afflicted with homosexuality, to the moral relativism of liberal Protestantism. Compare this to the statement linked here on 30th August from a group of America's Eastern Orthodox bishops, or to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Federally supported torture and hostage-taking; echoes of 1984
Another of my formative books — I read it at the same age I read The Quiet American.

Lee Penn: In the novel 1984, Orwell wrote:

"Every new political theory, by whatever name it called itself, led back to
hierarchy and regimentation. And in the general hardening of outlook that set
in round about 1930, practices which had long been abandoned, in some cases
for hundreds of years - imprisonment without trial, the use of war prisoners as
slaves, public executions, torture to extract confessions, the use of hostages
and the deportation of whole populatioins - not only became common again, but
were tolerated and even defended by people who considered themselves
enlightened and progressive."

It can't happen here, you say? Wrong. It is happening here, now.

First, this story:

U.S. Adopts Aggressive Tactics on Iraqi Fighters

Much of the story covers regular war operations against combatants. But
here's the problem:

"Col. David Hogg, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division,
said tougher methods are being used to gather the intelligence. On Wednesday
night, he said, his troops picked up the wife and daughter of an Iraqi
lieutenant general. They left a note: "If you want your family released, turn
yourself in." Such tactics are justified, he said, because, "It's an intelligence
operation with detainees, and these people have info." They would have been
released in due course, he added later. The tactic worked. On Friday, Hogg said,
the lieutenant general appeared at the front gate of the U.S. base and

The real god of America is pragmatism.

How we have progressed:
In 1980, it was "America held hostage," as Iranian terrorists kidnapped US
diplomats and dependents for political reasons. Now, in 2003, it's
"American-held hostage," as we kidnap the faimilies of Iraqi suspects.

Catholic apologist Mark Shea nails this one on the head:

"I'm hearing from lots of hard-headed practical people that it's ducky to lie
and say the guy's family is being taken hostage (when really it's all just a
normal intel exam) in order to achieve the greater good of catching the bad
guy. So why is it not also okay to lie and say it's just a normal intel exam
when really they're being taken hostage? If the ends justify the means, why not?
And if they do, then why bother with Catholic morality at all? It seems to me
we're really saying "Catholic morality is a pleasant thought, but we are, of
course, dispensed from it when it interferes with real world American policy
needs." It also seems to me we're being asked to believe, "Americans will lie to
Iraqi bad guys and tell them their family is being held hostage (when really
they are just in for routine questioning) in pursuit of the greater good, but
they would never lie to the press or us and say the family would have been
released 'in due course'." That's a leap of faith unjustified by broad
experience with the species homo sapiens. I'm odd this way, but I find "ends justify the
means" thinking corrupt and corrupting, even when Americans (who are, of
course, exempt from original sin) do it. I tend to think that when you get used
lying to bad guys, you will also find it rather easy to lie to anybody else
once you've decided that the greater good demands it."

And there is this:

We Have Ways of Making You Talk


"Actually, we know from other documents declassified over the years that when
it comes to questioning hard cases, dependency is a whole lot more important
than 'trust.' Suspected bad guys are isolated and dependent for every bit of
information they receive, even the time of day. The interrogators have the
power to grant or withhold permission for every bodily function, including
sleep. It's amazing how fast most people break down under such circumstances. If
that doesn't work, the treatment can get rough. But you have to read between
Jacoby's lines to figure that out.


"As one of Jacoby's subordinates in the U.S. Navy explained to me, the idea
is to keep most of the important players out of the United States. Apparently
there is no shortage of black holes in which to soften up the bad guys,
although only a few are publicized. "The most interesting thing about
interrogations is how the U.S. government and military capitalizes on the dubious status (as
sovereign states) of Afghanistan, Diego Garcia, Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and
aircraft carriers to avoid certain legal questions about rough
interrogations," my friend told me. "Whatever humanitarian pronouncements a state such as ours may
make about torture, states don't perform interrogations, individual people
do. What's going to stop an impatient soldier, in a supralegal location, from
whacking one nameless, dehumanized shopkeeper among many?"


Admiral Jacoby's rationale is fascinating: first of all, because there might
be something the interrogators missed, or can find out if there are new
suspects captured somewhere else sometime. And you wouldn't want Padilla to
have any sense of hope if they need to question him again: "Any delay in obtaining
information from Padilla could have the severest consequences for national
security and public safety." Secondly - and this is what's really
creepy - because Padilla might reveal "sources and methods." That is, he might talk about
precisely those means that were used to make him talk, therefore he can never be
allowed to talk at all.
If the courts buy this line of argument, then we Americans can kiss
our sweet rights goodbye. And reading the admiral's brief, you have to ask
yourself if that isn't really the goal: to give the president and his people
the power to treat all Americans like José Padilla, unless and until we give the
answers expected of us."

Anyone who has read Darkness at Noon, or who knows how the KGB got the Old
Bolsheviks to abase themselves at the Moscow Trials of 1937, will know how all
this works. The Russians called round-the-clock interrogation, with sleep
deprivation, "the Conveyor." It sounds like that is the least of what we are
doing now.

and for our Federal prisoners at home, there's this lovely little device:

Torture at the Push of a Button (washingtonpost.com)

"Last week accused sniper John Allen Muhammad raised a point of legal
procedure and received a shocking response -- literally. Muhammad objected to a
medical test that had not been ordered by the court or discussed with his
attorney. In response to his refusal to cooperate, the guards activated a stun belt
that sent a powerful electrical charge through his body. ... At $800 each,
stun belts are the closest thing to a fashion craze in the correctional field. For
the well-appointed prosecutor or prison guard, they're a must. The devices
are battery-operated and fit around the waist of a prisoner. The guard holds a
simple remote control that sends an eight-second, 50,000- to 70,000-volt surge
through a prisoner, causing immediate loss of muscular control and
incapacitation. When shocked, many individuals will defecate or urinate on
themselves. Some can experience fatal cardiac arrhythmia. ... Stun belts have been defined
as a torture device by Amnesty International, which describes them as "cruel,
inhumane and degrading." ... Despite such human rights objections, stun
belts are used in 30 state prisons and all federal trial courts. For prisoners,
they have the same effect as a taser gun pointed continually an inch from
their heads. At any moment, a guard can flip a switch and turn you into a
quivering, incapacitated freak. Indeed, the stun belt's ability "to humiliate
the wearer" is cited as a "great advantage" by one company's literature --
impressing on a defendant that "the mere push of a button in someone else's hand could
make you defecate and urinate yourself." A court recently found that accidental
triggerings occur regularly."

Go back and read that Orwell quote again ..... 1984 is in progress, now.

Kyrie eleison. [End.]